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Involuntary Treatment: A Court Would Decide

September 25, 2002

Re "A Legal Threat to Mentally Ill," Voices, Sept. 21: I strongly disagree with Sally Zinman and her article on the mentally ill. I believe my son could have been saved by involuntary mental health treatment. He believed that everyone else was sick but himself. (That was his paranoia.) Yes, he threatened to "cut me up and flush me down the toilet," and he tried to hire someone to kill me. This was just his sickness. He never followed through.

I tried everything I could to persuade him to seek treatment. Then I tried every type of office, from the Police Department to psychiatric facilities, to take him. The answer was: "We cannot do anything unless he harms himself or others." Well, he never harmed himself or others, but he has been missing now for 16 years. Every night I pray that he will be found, that he is not in pain, that he has not harmed anyone. Is he out on the street? In prison? In some situation where he is unable to help himself? If he had been involuntarily committed, maybe he could have had some help. He was/is a brilliant young man who had a wonderful future until he became sick, and there was nothing that I could do. I could write you a volume of all that I have tried to do to find my son.

I do hope that Gov. Gray Davis signs the bill to help mentally ill people. After all, the bill includes a court-ordered hearing; it would not just be the family who would determine that someone should be committed.

Patricia Ochoa

Oxnard

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Your article concerning the mentally ill was well thought out. I am a mentally ill person suffering from bipolar disorder. I am doing very well, now that I have the option to seek treatment. If I were forced to be in treatment I would just go away. Many of the medications they would force on you damage your liver or kidneys or other organs. It has taken a trial and error of over 100 medications to find the combination that works for me at this time, and I know it will not work forever and that new meds will have to be tried. I know too many mentally ill people--forcing them will only cause them to go into hiding and stop their meds. Please write Gov. Davis and ask him to veto AB 1421.

Tom Martin

La Quinta

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